Prejudice and the meaning of ‘Hate’

Whilst sitting at a Reginald D Hunter’s gig at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, he mentioned that in recent interviews he was being asked if he was still “angry” about life or the news or had his “anger left” him. Fast forward to a part of the show where he asked the audience to do a show of hands if they had experienced ‘hatred’, I raised my hand. I could see many people tentatively put their hands up, and I felt bodies shifting in their seat. I mean why would you openly admit to this, it means exposing yourself publicly which leaves you open to being vulnerable. We learn to create different barriers, coping mechanisms, facades of who we are to deal with people, life, situations; to make us stronger, powerful, hard or whatever the words or actions we need to use to protect ourselves with.

I looked up the meaning of the word ‘hatred’, and in the dictionary (depending on which one you are consulting) it is a noun “Hate from hete meaning hate, plus the suffix of red from readen which means ‘the condition of”. But what I found interesting that it was described as ‘a feeling of intense dislike so strong that it demands an action’.

An ‘action’? What type of action and how would this action be carried out and broken down? Hmm food for thought eh? As I can only speak from my own experiences, observations, hatred to me works under many guises and with many other darker emotions. Sociology, psychology will tell us it evolves from other individuals, groups, variables of the economical or environmental kind. I don’t entirely believe that we are completely indoctrinated by humankind, books or religion, we make choices for ourselves every step of the way; it’s called freewill, what a wonderful thing.

Being a person of colour, I have experienced prejudice in many forms, racisim, sexism, ageism, and none of it comes from a positive, funny place. If you have grown up around it all your life, you identify quickly the difference between open and subtle prejudice. It’s in peoples expressions, tone of voice or behaviour around you. Sometimes I realise that I am one of the three other people of colour in the room, work place, or holiday destination. Sometimes, I feel like the quota that’s being filled, black female within the right age bracket for this role or job.

Any open prejudice also touches my soul, it doesn’t feel right or sit right inside me and why should it? Why should I accept that maybe the other person is having a bad day, time in their life etc. Why should I be mocked and be told that I’m being a bit sensitive, why should I be told that I don’t have a sense of humour (the list goes on).

This attitude makes me angry, it’s insensitive and like many other people I can take a joke but if I joke back “it’s razor sharp sarcasm”, “it’s hurtful”, “I’m being inconsiderate”. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I will admit that maybe I can be these things but I shouldn’t feel like I have to explain myself when others don’t. Why should I care when others won’t give a shit, why should I behave like the “better person” when others get away with ‘isms’ that I don’t display. (I believe in karma and she is one helluava bitch because when she comes around, she won’t care if you don’t recognise her or not because the rest of us will).

You could never explain to someone who has been taught from the history books, that they were powerful above and beyond every race, what it is like to experience or truly know the ‘isms’. Unless the individual educates themselves to discover life, cultures, people of the continents and not “foreigners” as the term is so loosely used. How can you identify, empathise or connect with others when all you know is generalisations or media related BS.

So, being the “better person”, I have often asked where does this hatred come from? Jealousy? Anger? No reason at all or all the above (sometimes, we will never know). Why jealousy, because the insecurities that have stayed with us all of our lives are now directed at someone else, some of which we create and never let go? Aesthetic jealousy, monetary wealth, successful career, hard work, popularity, or all of the above. If so, then why bring any of the ‘isms’ into it, why make it personal, why be critical, why be pedantic? Why waste time and energy on  negative emotions when surely it is easier to ignore someone rather than gossip about them, focus on what you do rather than on what they don’t, concern yourself with your achievements instead of transferring rude behaviour, a lack of determination/goals, personal growth and development because you are too frightened to admit that you and your life is not as perfect as the picture you paint.

Hate is a strong word and ultimately should be used wisely. It is a word that is chosen out of fear, insecurity, ignorance and comes from within ourselves. If we display or feel hate, then we need only look to ourselves for the reasons as others are not our answers.

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